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2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on April 30 , 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite April 2020 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Jim Tierney





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts
Cover by Ian Whates,
utilising a photo by Michael Gaida





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts
Cover art by Richard Oriolo





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Charlotte Stroomer - LBBG
Cover illustration by Larry Rostant





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts
Cover by Francesca Corsini





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 Debuts

Interview with Matthew Ward, author of Legacy of Ash


Please welcome Matthew Ward to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Legacy of Ash is published on April 7, 2020 by Orbit.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Matthew a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Matthew Ward, author of Legacy of Ash




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Matthew:  I used to scribble stories all the time at primary school, though I’ve no recollection of what went into them. The first real crack I remember taking at writing was a Babylon 5 novel, twenty-five or so years ago. It wouldn’t have worked out – and for all sorts of reasons, not least that I didn’t get very far. It’s long since been lost to hard drive crashes and the like.

Probably for the best.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Matthew:  It varies from book to book. I prefer making things up as I go – writing’s more fun when I’m discovering the story as if I’m reading it. But there are certain tales where things have to slot into place just so. Those end up with quite meticulous plans … character arcs, plot beats and the like nailed into place from the very beginning. That’s a lot more like actual work (yuck), but sometimes you gotta.

I’ll be interested to see which one readers think Legacy of Ash is.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Matthew:  I learnt long ago that I don’t have a lot of patience for heavy redrafting, so everything has to be ‘right’ before I move on – whether to the next sentence, paragraph, chapter or whatever – otherwise the knowledge that it isn’t overshadows everything I try to do afterwards. It makes some days a bit of a grind, and some chapters end up lingering for what seems like eternity. But the results speak for themselves … at least, I hope they do.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Matthew:  I love big, overarching stories, but conversely, light-touch continuity – the idea that you can be reading several separate (but complete) tales that build into something much larger without compromising either.

From that point of view, I discovered comics at just the right time to spark my interest – Babylon 5 was winding down, and there wasn’t really anything left on TV doing what it had done – and just the wrong time, because the trend of massively decompressed storytelling was getting underway.

I think that’s one of the reasons I love narratives with a huge weight of history behind them (Babylon 5, The Lord of the Rings). They create the illusion that the story you’re experiencing – even if you devour it front to back – is only part of a much larger tale whose outline you can just about glimpse, if you squint at it just right. I find that sense of depth fascinating – it’s when the world becomes a living, breathing thing.



TQDescribe Legacy of Ash using only 5 words.

Matthew:  Mistakes of old, come due. Or perhaps ‘Oh no, don’t do that!’



TQTell us something about Legacy of Ash that is not found in the book description.

Matthew:  This isn’t just a war of mortals. There are divine powers waiting in the wings, and sometimes a good deal closer. They’ve been forgotten in Tressia (the main setting for the book), or otherwise warped so much by ‘official’ history as to be unrecognisable, but they’re there, and they won’t be ignored.



TQWhat inspired you to write Legacy of Ash? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Matthew:  The story of Legacy of Ash (in fact, the whole Legacy trilogy) goes back some twenty-odd years, as do many of the characters – if in a very prototypical form – so initial inspirations are a bit hazy at this point.

I knew there was a great story waiting to be told, but I spent years dancing around actually getting started. It sounds pompous, but I’m not sure I was ready to tell the story – my writing just wasn’t there yet, and it was going to need to be if I were to do it justice. And then somewhere along the line, it just clicked, and now we’re here.

Fantasy’s a wonderful genre to write within, because it’s so flexible. You can ground yourself in reality as much (or as little) as you like, so long as you can carry the reader with you. It’s escapism at its finest.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Legacy of Ash?

Matthew:  Not much of any, if I’m honest. I have an obsession with real world adjacent names, so I spend a lot of time scratching at that aspect – Legacy has names inspired (or directly drawn from) Slavic, Celtic, British, Indian and Hebrew roots.

Otherwise? I started getting a bit obsessed about marching times/distances, but that was about as far as my research went.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Legacy of Ash.

Matthew:  The illustration’s by Larry Rostant; the design by Charlotte Stroomer. It’s a thing of beauty, and so wonderfully emblematic of the book. Right from the get-go, the narrative pivots around the prophecy of a phoenix – a leader who’ll bring freedom to the oppressed south – and fire is ever-present, both as a metaphor for rebirth, and of cleansing.

More than that, I probably shouldn’t say…



TQIn Legacy of Ash who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Matthew:  I’ve always loved secondary characters. Favourite character in Star Wars? Wedge Antilles. Favourite Ghostbuster? Winston Zeddemore. And so on, etc.

It’s a quirk that spills over into my writing, and I love every moment I spend with the supporting cast. Of these, Vladama Kurkas is probably the most straightforward, because he’s a straightforward soul – but he’s also smarter than he lets on, which gives him a wonderfully broad range to work with.

Josiri Trelan was probably the hardest. He’s a protagonist, which is already a black mark against him in my supporting character-loving soul, but also he has probably the biggest arc in the book. He’s never there as meat in the room. If he’s in the scene, he’s got to sing.



TQDoes Legacy of Ash touch on any social issues?

Matthew:  It’s fair to say there’s a theme of overcoming prejudice running through the book. Every character brings societal baggage to the table – how they react to that prejudice and (if they) overcome it is ultimately what defines them, as it does us all.

One of the greatest challenges we all face is accepting that what we consider ‘normal’ or ‘reasonable’ may not be when viewed from another’s perspective. How we move forward from that point has the power to change the world, if we let it.



TQWhich question about Legacy of Ash do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Matthew:

Q: Are you Tressian or Hadari at heart?

A: Tricky one, because the two realms have a lot more in common than they first appear. But on balance, I’m probably Tressian, as I’m a little bit too attached to structure and protocol. I also look a lot better in shirt and cravat than silk robes too, so there’s that.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Legacy of Ash.

Matthew:  Let’s start with a bit of scene-setting, going back to the idea of story behind the story.

The mists of Krayna Dell defied the light of dawn. Revekah wasn’t surprised. It was often thus in the Forbidden Places, where old magic wore thin the walls between the living realm and Otherworld. For those who didn’t heed the priesthood’s warnings about such places, a thousand tales counselled caution. Spirits lurked within the mists, or so it was said. Spirits, and worse. Revekah had never seen such peril for herself – nor spoken to anyone who had – but the fear remained.
        Mists or no, the Forbidden Places were different. As if the turnings of the world held little influence on what passed within, or distant seasons lingered jealously beneath the boughs.

For an actual character quote, I’d go with “They mistake bigotry for the tinder of great days gone.” as it sums up so much of what the book’s about.

(I’ll leave it a surprise which character says it, and when.)



TQWhat's next?

Matthew:  Well, book two – Legacy of Steel – is currently in the ‘making it awesome’ phase (boring people call this ‘editing’), where my editor politely asks me to stop using the word ‘softly’ so much, and otherwise helps me see the forest again, and not the trees. That’s going to be hugely exciting to get capped off.

Meanwhile, I’m well underway with book three, which is even more exciting (a threequel beats a sequel, right?) So I’m still very much neck deep in Tressia.

After? Well, I have plans. I always have plans. There are more stories to tell in Aradane (the world of Legacy of Ash), so I’m hoping people want to read them. Other than that? Something to do with vampires, perhaps. Or maybe monsters in the London Underground.

Either way, it’ll be a fun ride.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.





Legacy of Ash
The Legacy Trilogy 1
Orbit, April 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 800 pages

Interview with Matthew Ward, author of Legacy of Ash
Legacy of Ash is an unmissable fantasy debut–an epic tale of intrigue and revolution, soldiers and assassins, ancient magic and the eternal clash of empires.

A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.

Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.

And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.

As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.





About Matthew

Interview with Matthew Ward, author of Legacy of Ash
Photo by Photo Nottingham
Matthew Ward is a fantasy author, cat-servant, and owner of more musical instruments than he can actually play. He’s afflicted with an obsession for old places — castles, historic cities, and the London Underground chief amongst them — and should probably cultivate more interests to help expand out his author biography. Ward lives near Nottingham with his wife and several cats.




Website  ~ Twitter @thetowerofstars

Facebook  ~  Pinterest



2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts


There are 9 debut novels for April 2020.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The April debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite April cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on April 15, 2020.



Ali Araghi

The Immortals of Tehran
Melville House, April 7, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
As a child living in his family’s apple orchard, Ahmad Torkash-Vand treasures his great-great-great-great grandfather’s every mesmerizing word. On the day of his father’s death, Ahmad listens closely as the seemingly immortal elder tells him the tale of a centuries-old family curse . . . and the boy’s own fated role in the story.

Ahmad grows up to suspect that something must be interfering with his family, as he struggles to hold them together through decades of famine, loss, and political turmoil in Iran. As the world transforms around him, each turn of Ahmad’s life is a surprise: from street brawler, to father of two unusually gifted daughters; from radical poet, to politician with a target on his back. These lives, and the many unforgettable stories alongside his, converge and catch fire at the center of the Revolution.

Exploring the brutality of history while conjuring the astonishment of magical realism, The Immortals of Tehran is a novel about the incantatory power of words and the revolutionary sparks of love, family, and poetry—set against the indifferent, relentless march of time.





Asaf Ashery

Simantov
Angry Robot, April 14, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 392 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
Women disappear from streets, clubs, and rooftops leaving the police dazed and confused. The mystical Soothsayer Task Force must use their special skills to divine the truth and solve the mystery.

When detective Mazzy Simantov is called up to investigate the case of a missing girl, little does she know it is linked to a series of other mysterious disappearances of women. She is forced to partner with Yariv, her one-time lover and sometimes-colleague, but as the investigation continues, otherworldly clues begin to appear at the crime scenes, including a black feather unlike that of any bird…

As the clues mount, it becomes clear that an apocalypse is looming, as Heaven’s secret orders threaten to collide in a head-on war that imperils everyone on Earth. Can Mazzy and Yariv come together to save the world from being torn apart?

This is the English translation from the original Hebrew text, translated by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman.

File Under: Fantasy [ Bad Omens | Angels & Humans | Apocalypse Now | Big Guns ]





Camilla Bruce

You Let Me In
Tor Books, April 21, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
You Let Me In delivers a stunning tale from debut author Camilla Bruce, combining the sinister domestic atmosphere of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects with the otherwordly thrills of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Cassandra Tipp is dead...or is she?

After all, the notorious recluse and eccentric bestselling novelist has always been prone to flights of fancy—everyone in town remembers the shocking events leading up to Cassie's infamous trial (she may have been acquitted, but the insanity defense only stretches so far).

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript.

Then again, there are enough bodies in her past—her husband Tommy Tipp, whose mysterious disembowelment has never been solved, and a few years later, the shocking murder-suicide of her father and brother.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare...





Hao Jingfang
Ken Liu (Translator)

Vagabonds
Gallery / Saga Press, April 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 608 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
A century after the Martian war of independence, a group of kids are sent to Earth as delegates from Mars, but when they return home, they are caught between the two worlds, unable to reconcile the beauty and culture of Mars with their experiences on Earth in this spellbinding novel from Hugo Award–winning author Hao Jingfang.

This genre-bending novel is set on Earth in the wake of a second civil war…not between two factions in one nation, but two factions in one solar system: Mars and Earth. In an attempt to repair increasing tensions, the colonies of Mars send a group of young people to live on Earth to help reconcile humanity. But the group finds itself with no real home, no friends, and fractured allegiances as they struggle to find a sense of community and identity, trapped between two worlds.

Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Naomi Alderman’s The Power will fall in love with this novel about lost innocence, an uncertain future, and never feeling at home, no matter where you are in the universe. Translated by Ken Liu, bestselling author of The Paper Menagerie and translator of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, Vagabonds is the first novel from Hao Jingfang, the first Chinese woman to ever win the esteemed Hugo Award.





RB Kelly

Edge of Heaven
Newcon Press, April 14, 2020
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 370 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
2119: The bi-level city of Creo Basse towers over the wastelands of central France. Built as a permanent relocation centre for the dispossessed, Creo has become a hotbed of simmering resentment and unrest. The authorities keep tight control, not least because outlawed a-nauts (artificial humans) are known to hide among its citizenry.

In the dark, honeycomb districts of the lower city, Boston Turrow is searching desperately for black-market meds for his epileptic sister when he encounters one of the many ways Creo can kill a person. His unlikely rescuer is Danae Grant, a woman recently made homeless when the bloc she lived in was condemned. Danae knows people, Boston knows where she can stay...

The tinderbox that is Creo catches light when a deadly plague erupts among the populace. Is it really a terrorist weapon unleashed by the a-nauts as the authorities claim, or does that just hide a deeper, darker secret? Danae and Boston are determined to survive, if only to discover the truth; of course, that might be easier said than done...

RB Kelly's stunning debut novel, Edge of Heaven, is the winner of the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair Award.





Corry L. Lee

Weave the Lightning
Solaris, April 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
Russian-inspired epic of magical revolution & romance

Empire. Revolution. Magic.

Gerrit is the son of Bourshkanya’s Supreme-General. Despite his powerful storm-affinity and the State’s best training, he can’t control his magic. To escape the brutal consequences, he flees.

Celka is a travelling circus performer, hiding both her link to the underground and her storm-affinity from the prying eyes of the secret police. But Gerrit’s arrival threatens to expose everything: her magic, her family, and the people they protect.

The storms have returned, and everything will change.





Molly Pohlig

The Unsuitable
Henry Holt, April 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
Molly Pohlig's The Unsuitable is a fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural moment.

Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck.

Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take Iseult off his hands—a man whose medical treatments have turned his skin silver—a true comedy of errors ensues.
As history’s least conventional courtship progresses into talk of marriage, Iseult’s mother becomes increasingly volatile and uncontrollable, and Iseult is forced to resort to extreme, often violent, measures to keep her in check.

As the day of the wedding nears, Iseult must decide whether (and how) to set the course of her life, with increasing interference from both her mother and father, tipping her ever closer to madness, and to an inevitable, devastating final act.





Veronica Roth

The Chosen Ones
John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 7, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 432 pages
(D - Adult)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
SAVING THE WORLD ONCE MADE THEM HEROES. SAVING IT AGAIN MAY DESTROY THEM.

Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. He was known as the Dark One, and his weapon of choice—catastrophic events known as Drains—leveled cities and claimed thousands of lives. Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.

After the Dark One fell, the world went back to normal . . . for everyone but them. After all, what do you do when you’re the most famous people on Earth, your only education was in magical destruction, and your purpose in life is now fulfilled?

Of the five, Sloane has had the hardest time adjusting. Everyone else blames the PTSD—and her huge attitude problem—but really, she’s hiding secrets from them. secrets that keep her tied to the past and alienate her from the only four people in the world who understand her.

On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold—bigger than the world itself.

And this time, fighting back might take more than Sloane has to give.





Matthew Ward

Legacy of Ash
The Legacy Trilogy 1
Orbit, April 7, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 800 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - April Debuts
Legacy of Ash is an unmissable fantasy debut–an epic tale of intrigue and revolution, soldiers and assassins, ancient magic and the eternal clash of empires.

A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.

Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.

And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.

As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.

Interview with Rachel Harrison, author of The Return


Please welcome Rachel Harrison to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Return is published on March 24, 2020 by Berkley.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Rachel a very Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Rachel Harrison, author of The Return




The Qwillery: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Rachel Harrison: One of my earliest memories is dictating a story to my mother before I could write myself, so I must have been pretty young. I have a very clear picture of where I was, but I don’t remember what the story was about. Willing to bet someone died, though. As a child author I was quite brutal. Excessive death. Maiming, too. Maiming was a staple of my early fiction.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

RH:  A hybrid! For The Return I had a solid outline, but I like to give myself some breathing room. Sometimes my characters intervene.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

RH:  I love to write. I wish I had more time to write but writing itself is pure joy for me. I think the challenging part comes with putting your work out there. It’s really vulnerable and weird and wonderful and terrifying and exciting. It’s a lot to process, and in general I have a low threshold for the stresses of existence, so it’s been tricky for me to navigate this strange new reality.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

RH:  For The Return, I was influenced by The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Shining by Stephen King, which is an entirely unsurprising answer as those are two of the best and most iconic horror novels of all time. But I was also really influenced by Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Those are my favorite books about female friendship. As far as the setting goes, The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo was the inspiration for the Red Honey Inn, the hotel in the novel. I’ve never been, but I saw some pictures and was smitten. I hope to go someday!



TQDescribe The Return using only 5 words.

RH:  Careful. Keep your friends close.



TQTell us something about The Return that is not found in the book description.

RH:  This book is really a coming-of-age story. Everyone always talks about how hard it is to be a teenager, but you don’t magically have everything figured out when you hit twenty. Things get harder and more complicated, and you have to pay taxes. You want horror, let’s talk first trip to H&R block. What I’m getting at is, The Return explores some of the struggles of being in your twenties and trying, and sometimes failing, to figure out who you are, what you want out of life as an adult, and who’s going to stay with you on your journey.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Return? What appeals to you about writing horror?

RH:   I was inspired by my relationships with my friends and my experience in my twenties. On a bit of a deeper level, I’ve had two close friendships fall apart in my life. I never knew how to mourn those relationships. There’s a lot out there on getting over romantic breakups, but how are you supposed to cope when you lose a friend? I personally felt, and still feel, a lot of shame and confusion and sadness over the ends of those friendships, and writing this book was a way for me to parse out those feelings.

And everything about writing horror appeals to me. I love the genre so much it’s difficult for me to articulate an answer. My inner monologue is currently set to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, but instead of “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” it’s “ghosts in dark graveyards and monsters in closets.” The world is a frightening place. Writing horror is how I explore my fear, so it becomes less of a burden.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Return?

RH:  I researched characters, I researched locations, but it’s horror fiction, so a lot of it is imagination, heavily seasoned with personal experiences, anxieties, and traumas.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Return.

RH:  The cover is a hot pink masterpiece by Katie Anderson. All I’ll say about the cover is that it’s absolutely perfect and I’m obsessed with it.



TQIn The Return who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

RH:  Molly was probably the easiest to write because she’s self-assured, she knows exactly who she is. Also, we both have dirty sailor mouths. Julie was the hardest because she’s got a lot going on. She can be warm, but she’s not forthcoming. It was difficult for me to understand her at times because she doesn’t want to be understood. She enjoys being an enigma.



TQDoes The Return touch on any social issues?

RH:  I wanted to write a novel that felt honest about female friendship. My friends and I love and support each other, but in my opinion, no healthy long-term relationship is pure love and support, sunshine and rainbows, and that’s okay, it’s normal! It’s important that women allow each other to be flawed, to give each other room to make mistakes. Women are allowed to be fuck ups. We’re human! We can love and support each other and also be honest our feelings and experiences, even if they aren’t pretty. We should be able to fail and forgive each other. Fail and forgive ourselves.



TQWhich question about The Return do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

RH:  Hmm, this one is tough. Maybe, “Rachel, The Return is so brilliant and amazing, how did you write such an incredible book?” I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Though feel free to ask me that. I like to talk about my characters, especially the messy ones. I think I’d like to be asked about Elise, how I feel about her. It’d be a long answer.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Return.

RH:  “You can’t erase your past when there are pieces of it scattered inside other people.”



TQWhat's next?

RH:  I’m too superstitious to answer this question but follow me on Twitter for updates @rachfacelogic! *throws salt over shoulder*



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

RH:  Thank you!





The Return
Berkley, March 24, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Rachel Harrison, author of The Return
A group of friends reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance in this edgy and haunting debut.

Julie is missing, and no one believes she will ever return—except Elise. Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and feels it in her bones that her best friend is out there and that one day Julie will come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her.

Along with Molly and Mae, their two close friends from college, the women decide to reunite at a remote inn. But the second Elise sees Julie, she knows something is wrong—she’s emaciated, with sallow skin and odd appetites. And as the weekend unfurls, it becomes impossible to deny that the Julie who vanished two years ago is not the same Julie who came back. But then who—or what—is she?





About Rachel

Interview with Rachel Harrison, author of The Return
Photo: © Nic Harris
Rachel Harrison was born and raised in the weird state of New Jersey. She received her bachelor’s in Writing for Film & Television from Emerson College. After graduating, she worked on TV game shows, in publishing, and for a big bank. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their cat/overlord. This is her first novel.










Website ~ Twitter @rachfacelogic


Interview with EeLeen Lee, author of Liquid Crystal Nightingale


Please welcome EeLeen Lee to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Liquid Crystal Nightingale was published on March 17, 2020 by Abaddon.



Interview with EeLeen Lee, author of Liquid Crystal Nightingale




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

EeLeen:  A review of a film I had not seen – Tron (1982) – because I was seven years old and didn’t want to appear uncool to the other kids. The piece was so convincing the teacher made me read it out in class. But the joke was on all of us because Tron isn’t actually the film's protagonist, it’s the programmer Flynn as portrayed by Jeff Bridges.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

EeLeen:  I’m more structure-based: plot is what happens in the story but structure is how you convey to the reader what’s happening. A plot maybe watertight but poor structure will undercut it. I allow my inner pantser to emerge when it comes to dialogue since it’s the flow is easier to revise than blocks of prose.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

EeLeen:  Two things: 1) Trying not to be terrified of the blank page, and 2) Shutting off online distractions but not social media per se. On occasion I’ve become quite lost down the Research Rabbit Hole.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

EeLeen:  William Gibson, Yoon Ha Lee, Pat Cadigan, Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space novels, China Mieville's Bas Lag novels, and recent John le Carré.

I also love science fiction concept art, especially by Chris Foss and the late Syd Mead.



TQDescribe Liquid Crystal Nightingale using only 5 words.

EeLeen:  Not all who break, shatter.



TQTell us something about Liquid Crystal Nightingale that is not found in the book description.

EeLeen:  The weaponry is strange and deliberately so: dance accoutrements, modified gemmological implants, and guns firing unusual projectiles. As with ships, weapons tend to be science fiction shorthand so I really wanted to get away from the clichéd lasers or pulse rifles.



TQWhat inspired you to write Liquid Crystal Nightingale? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

EeLeen:  The novel started out as an exercise: write about a couple of imaginary cities, à la Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. As soon as I started writing about a city that looked like a cat’s eye when seen from space, I had to continue it.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I love science fiction concept art but I can’t draw or paint. So in writing I get to paint the images in my head with words.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Liquid Crystal Nightingale?

EeLeen:  Mining, asteroid mining and then speculations about off-world economies, dance, gemmology and geology, and materials science. My problem was deciding on what to leave out of the novel.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Liquid Crystal Nightingale.

EeLeen:  The very talented artist is Adam Tredowski and his work is reminiscent of Mead and Foss. Tredowski’s paintings can be found on Deviantart https://www.deviantart.com/tredowski.

I’ve been asked if the space station on the cover is Chatoyance but it’s not because Chatoyance is written as a city settlement and not an orbital construct. The cover image isn’t entirely accurate in terms of the novel. But in retrospect the image inadvertently references the defence ring of military satellites called the Demarcation referred to in the novel.



TQIn Liquid Crystal Nightingale who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

EeLeen:  The protagonist, Pleo Tanza, was the most difficult because I was expecting her to spring fully-formed from my imagination and onto the page after living in my head for years. This did not happen and rediscovering her character was like catching smoke with a butterfly net for six to nine months.

The two investigators, Dumortier and Nadira, were the inverse: they were not fully-formed in my head but the ease with which they took shape on the page surprised me. The more I wrote of them and as them I realised both of them were unintentional audience surrogates. It enhances reader immersion when even both characters, who are the most competent and experienced professionals (senior investigators), find themselves in over their heads by the events in the novel.



TQWhich question about Liquid Crystal Nightingale do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

EeLeen:  I wish someone would spot and ask about the significance of the gemmological references in the novel, so I will highlight two: Pleo is named for pleochroism, a trait displayed by gems when they seem to possess varying colours when viewed from different angles. This is a great metaphor for her character. Dumortier is named after the palaeontologist Eugene Dumortier, and the mineral dumortierite is named after him. Dumortierite is a very reassuring deep denim blue, and that too, represented his character.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Liquid Crystal Nightingale.

EeLeen:

“Intention fashions the weapon.”

“Our queen is in the crowd.”



TQWhat's next?

EeLeen:  I’m writing a military science fiction novel set in a very different universe from Liquid Crystal Nightingale.



TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

EeLeen:  Thank you very much!





Liquid Crystal Nightingale
Abaddon, March 17, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with EeLeen Lee, author of Liquid Crystal Nightingale
A bold and clever political thriller science fiction debut

Go deeper, they said. Look closer.

Pleo Tanza is a survivor. Her father was broken by tragedy, her twin sister is dead—chewed up and spat out by the corruption and injustice of Chatoyance—but she’s going to make it, whatever it takes. She’s going to get off this rock.

But escape is for the rich or lucky. Pleo’s framed for the murder of a rival student—the daughter of one of the colony’s wealthy, squabbling clans—and goes on the run, setting off a chain events that could destroy the fragile balance of the old colony forever…





About EeLeen

Interview with EeLeen Lee, author of Liquid Crystal Nightingale
EeLeen Lee was born in London, UK but has roots in Malaysia. After graduating from Royal Holloway College she several years as a lecturer and a copywriter until she took the leap into writing. As a result, her fiction since has appeared in various magazines and anthologies in the U.K, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, such as Asian Monsters from Fox Spirit Books, and Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction. When she is not writing she can be found editing fiction and nonfiction, being an armchair gemmologist, and tweeting at odd hours.

Twitter @EeleenLee

Interview with S. A. Jones, author of The Fortress


Please welcome S. A. Jones to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Fortress is published on March 17, 2020 by Erewhon.



Interview with S. A. Jones, author of The Fortress




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

S. A.:  I don’t remember this incident but it is part of my family folklore. When I was a toddler I was an obsessive scribbler. My parents would make me repeat “I only write on paper. I only write on paper” to reinforce that I was not to draw on any other surface.

They had their kitchen decorated with wallpaper.

You can guess what happened.

The first writing that I remember was a series of illustrated stories I did for my sister Bec when I was twelve and she was two. The stories were called Octavia, Gillian and the Acqua-Gumpoo. They were about a misunderstood sea monster with bad hair trying to find his place in a hierarchical, snobbish court. So totally not autobiographical.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

S. A.:  I am a plotter. That said, the process of writing often reveals developments that I hadn’t consciously thought of until I start to write. So there is an extent to which writing and plotting are symbiotic.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

S. A.:  The terror of the blank page. Once I start writing I can be immensely productive in a fairly short time span. But surmounting the fear that I am composed of nothing but airy, wordless spaces is a constant battle.



TQ
What has influenced / influences your writing?

S. A.:  I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t compelled to write so it is hard to isolate an influence. Despite my working class background my family has always encouraged the belief that reading and writing are worthwhile pursuits so I’ve been fortunate in that regard.

Time and money definitely influence the kind of books I write. There are a couple of research-intensive books I’d love to write but I simply don’t have the resources to pursue them.



TQDescribe The Fortress using only 5 words.

S. A.:  Your Misogynist Boss Gets His



TQTell us something about The Fortress that is not found in the book description.

S. A.:  The original inhabitants of The Fortress, the Vaik, are genetically improbable: women of colour with blonde hair. I was interested in the idea of a sovereign state governed by women whose physicality our culture does not code as powerful.

In my original draft all of the Vaik were women of colour with blonde hair. As I worked through the story I realised that what characterised Vaikness was not biological or racial but psychological: a total immunity to any sense of gendered inferiority. Being Vaik is a state of mind.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Fortress?

S. A.:  Breathing while female



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Fortress?

S. A.:  I have observed corporate life for a long while now. Jonathon is an extreme example but he is a type of successful, wealthy, entitled man with very little consciousness about how power flows between him and other people. He isn’t evil, he’s just snug and comfortable in a world that works very well for him. Why would he poke and pull at his world to see what it is made of? Whether it is fair or just?

I majored in history and minored in politics at university so I’ve always been interested in how societies govern themselves and the narratives that create a sense of shared purpose and identity.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Fortress.

S. A.:  The cover is by Marina Drukman. I think it is stunning. It captures the raw physicality of the book while showing Jonathon’s power and vulnerability.

I have very little talent for visual design (when my ten year old daughter and I have ‘drawing dates’ she is tactful about my woeful efforts). I’m immensely grateful to Erewhon for engaging Marina because she grasped the essentials of the book and translated them into her medium. I’m fascinated by ekphrasis so the cover reveal is always a high point in the publishing process for me.



TQIn The Fortress who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

S. A.:  Jonathon was probably the easiest character because I understand him. Getting into his head and the rhythm of his speech came naturally.

Ulait was harder because her experience of girlhood is unprecedented. Ulait’s birthright is sexual pleasure and agency. She decides when and with whom she will be physically intimate. She has enormous physical freedom and no fear of men. Yet in other ways her life is quite restricted. She lives entirely within the geographical confines of the Fortress. She is drilled in Vaik narratives to the point where she can’t even draw what she wants without being chastised for not sticking to Vaik myth. She cannot have an equal relationship with a man because that does not exist in Vaik society.



TQDoes The Fortress touch on any social issues?

S. A.:  It doesn’t so much touch on them as give them a bear-hug and take them home for tea: gender, power, consent, subjectivity, pleasure, capitalism, justice, social cohesion…



TQWhich question about The Fortress do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

S. A.:

Q. How does it feel to win the Man Booker prize for The Fortress?

A. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Fortress.

S. A.:  This is creed sets out the principles for the four tenets of Vaik society which are work, history, sex and justice.

Work. History. Sex. Justice.

A moving body is a creative body. It produces the food on our plates, [LG1] the walls that protect us and the art that delights us.

We created and recreate ourselves by standing apart. We honour they who won us our solitude, but we are not petrified.

Pleasure consists in the freedom to, and the freedom from, and every Vaik will herself determine in what measure these things are best.

We are instruments of the sovereignty of all women, and do not shrink from the sacrifice this entails.

Work. History. Sex. Justice.

We are Vaik.




TQWhat's next?

S. A.:  I’m currently working on a book about a truck driver named Brian who is accidentally turned into a vampire by a drug-running bikie clan. One of the side-effects of his vampirism is that it cures Brian’s dyslexia. So finally we have an answer to the question is it better to be a blood-sucking fiend or go your whole life and not read Middlemarch?



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

S. A.:  My pleasure.





The Fortress
Erewhon, March 17, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages
(US Debut)

Interview with S. A. Jones, author of The Fortress
Jonathon Bridge has a corner office in a top-tier law firm, tailored suits and an impeccable pedigree. He has a fascinating wife, Adalia, a child on the way, and a string of pretty young interns as lovers on the side. He’s a man who’s going places. His world is our world: the same chaos and sprawl, haves and have-nots, men and women, skyscrapers and billboards. But it also exists alongside a vast, self-sustaining city-state called The Fortress where the indigenous inhabitants—the Vaik, a society run and populated exclusively by women—live in isolation.

When Adalia discovers his indiscretions and the ugly sexual violence pervading his firm, she agrees to continue their fractured marriage only on the condition that Jonathan voluntarily offers himself to the Fortress as a supplicant and stay there for a year.

Jonathon’s arrival at the Fortress begins with a recitation of the conditions of his stay: He is forbidden to ask questions, to raise his hand in anger, and to refuse sex. Jonathon is utterly unprepared for what will happen to him over the course of the year—not only to his body, but to his mind and his heart.

This absorbing, confronting and moving novel asks questions about consent, power, love and fulfillment. It asks what it takes for a man to change, and whether change is possible without a radical reversal of the conditions that seem normal.





About S. A. Jones

Interview with S. A. Jones, author of The Fortress
S. A. Jones is a Melbourne-based novelist and essayist whose work has been published in venues including The Guardian. She holds a PhD in history and has been a senior executive and a Shadow Ministerial staffer. In 2013 she was recognized by Westpac and The Australian Financial Review as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence for her public policy work. The Fortress is her third novel, and her debut in the United States.

Website 

2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2020 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator/designer information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on March 31 , 2020, unless the vote is extended. If the vote is extended the ending date will be updated.

Vote for your favorite March 2020 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover art by James Paul Jones





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover and cover text design by Marina Drukman





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover art by Armando Veve
Cover design by Christine Foltzer





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Jacket art by Yulia Bas
courtesy of Dr. Paul Banwell, private collection
Jacket design by Stephen Brayda





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover art by Adam Tredowski





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Jacket photograph of hallway © Dunaa / Trevillion Images
Jacket design by Katie Anderson





2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover design by Rodrigo Corral
Shark image drawn by Matt Buck
Lettering by Na Kim




2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 Debuts
Cover art and design by Sarah Evenson

Interview with Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors


Please welcome Kawai Strong Washburn to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Sharks in the Time of Saviors was published on March 3, 2020 by MCD.



Interview with Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors




The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Kawai Strong Washburn:  Thank you for having me! In middle school I wrote a few short science fiction stories that I remember, more or less. Heroes crash landing on distant landscapes, zombie tentacles fighting each other. Really sophisticated, compelling stuff.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

KSW:  It depends on the format. I'm comfortable 'pantsing' a short story, but for longer works I prefer a hybrid approach: working out characterization and the plot it implies upfront, building out disparate scenes with an eye for their internal logic/causal chain based on characterization, etc. I find this still allows for serendipity, which is what a lot of writers are afraid of when they think of planning.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

KSW:  Finding a way to make writing fit in with the larger concerns of my life (family, other employment, climate policy work). As much as I love writing, it still feels like a largely selfish endeavor, one that ultimately has to defer to parenthood and, just as importantly, active local/state/national work on climate change.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

KSW:  The feeling I get from performing or witnessing live hula; deep interactions with the natural world; live readings and compelling oratory more generally; the transformative reading experiences I have, which continually reassure me of the power of literature.



TQDescribe Sharks in the Time of Saviors using only 5 words.

KSW:  Complex, mythical, jagged, ultimately bright.



TQTell us something about Sharks in the Time of Saviors that is not found in the book description.

KSW:  There's a make-out scene in a bathroom, and it's simultaneously far more and far less sexy than you think.

 

TQWhat inspired you to write Sharks in the Time of Saviors?

KSW:  My experience as kama'āina (local to Hawai'i, a child of the land) moving to the continental United States, especially after time living abroad in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many differences between a place like Hawai'i and the rest of the United States. Another huge influence are the many transcendent (I don't use the word lightly) experiences I've had in the natural world, particularly in remote backpacking, mountaineering, surfing, and rock climbing. Finally, my interest in the potential for a sustainable future, one in which our modern lifestyle is corrected into something more in harmony with nature.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Sharks in the Time of Saviors?

KSW:  Lots of research on prison systems and emergency medicine, as well as ancient Hawaiian mythology. I actually have some experience with all three of these topics, but needed to really collect all the pertinent details to make sure they worked appropriately in the context of the story.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Sharks in the Time of Saviors.

KSW:  It's a rad, bright, orange-yellow gradient with a bold image of an inverted shark and embedded foil water-effect droplets, with lettering that suggests shark teeth. The cover was designed by Rodrigo Corral, with the shark image drawn by Matt Buck and lettering by Na Kim.



TQIn Sharks in the Time of Saviors who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

KSW

Easiest: Malia, probably because she was the closest to the place I was in life mentally and emotionally for large portions of the book, and also because she's generally speaking retrospectively from a single place and time.

Hardest: Dean, not only because of the work I had to do adapting Hawaiian Pidgin to something that felt readable and not terribly distracting on the page, but also because he does many things that I find objectionable (and more generally make me uncomfortable). I had to find a way to show his blind spots and self-justifications, not run from them, but also find a way to empathize with him.



TQDoes Sharks in the Time of Saviors touch on any social issues?

KSW:  Absolutely. It touches on issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and cultural identity in the United States, as well as the colonial history of Hawai'i.



TQWhich question about Sharks in the Time of Saviors do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

KSW

Q: How do you think this book speaks to our current moment:

A: One of the issues that is forefront in my mind--probably the greatest challenge of the 21st century--is how we can reconfigure our modern lifestyle in a way that achieves some semblance of ecological balance. My novel speaks to that most directly in its rendering of the almost interpersonal relationship between people and the land, particularly as we see it through Kaui's character arc and plotline.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Sharks in the Time of Saviors.

KSW

"The golden feeling of the owl's last flight stayed with me, even if the vision had long since faded into the dark."

"I could see him there, the waves and tides and gods dragging him around. But I'm in the water, too, I wanted to say. No one's watching to see if I stay afloat."



TQWhat's next?

KSW:  Another novel! It spans (roughly) two hundred years, from ancient Hawai'i to future Hawai'i. There's reincarnation and a band of female pirates and slick hot technology and more courage and bravery than you can fit in a nation.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

KSW:  Thank you for having me!





Sharks in the Time of Saviors
MCD, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawai’ian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.

“Old myths clash with new realities, love is in a ride or die with grief, faith rubs hard against magic, and comic flips with tragic so much they meld into something new. All told with daredevil lyricism to burn. A ferocious debut.” —Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

So good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods—a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i—with tragic consequences—they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.





About Kawai Strong Washburn

Interview with Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Photo by Crystal Lieppa
Kawai Strong Washburn was born and raised on the Hamakua coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney’s, and Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, among other outlets. He was a 2015 Tin House Summer Scholar and 2015 Bread Loaf work-study scholar. Today, he lives with his wife and daughters in Minneapolis. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is his first novel.







Website  ~   Twitter @incrediblekdub



Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising


Please welcome Premee Mohamed to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Beneath the Rising is published on March 3, 2020 by Solaris.

Please join all of us at The Qwillery in wishing Premee a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Premee:  I believe it was an illustrated picture book when I was seven or eight... it was about a cat who runs away from home and becomes a pirate (someone also steals his tail at some point if I recall correctly?). A coworker of my dad's gave me these alcohol-based drafting markers to colour it in with and I'm pretty sure I killed a whole bunch of brain cells.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Premee:  I used to be a pure pantser, but I think I would now say I'm a hybrid on my way to being a plotter, at least for novels. It's easy to put in about three signposts for a short story and then write whatever you want between them as long as those three things get hit, but I'm terrible for just having 'and then this happened, and then this happened' in a novel. I have so many novels from the last 20 years or so that just don't end! Now, I write landmarks in an outline document, and pants between them, which gives me the flexibility I like.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Premee:  So far, I'd say dealing with all the non-writing stuff... I had been writing for years but never wanted to get published, but I wish before I had decided that, I had researched taxes and receipts and organization and time management and contract language. There's a lot to learn on the fly and it all takes so much time away from the actual writing unless you keep on top of it!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Premee:  I read a lot, so definitely whatever fiction I'm reading at the time. And I read a lot of nonfiction as well, there's so much interesting writing out there. I probably have 5000 bookmarks, saved articles, tagged posts, and so on with 'Interesting for book!' (Of course, this means a lot gets missed, but I do intend to catch up one day!) Not so much movies or TV, which I don't watch much of, and I am not very current with what's out right now. My job, which is in environmental policy, is a constant source of ideas and conflict. And music for sure; I have dozens of short stories and at least one novella so far based on favourite songs or albums. 'Beneath the Rising' was definitely influenced by the science degree I was taking at the time, too, and how frustrating but exciting I found it. I miss those days of realizing just how much we didn't know we didn't know.



TQDescribe Beneath the Rising using only 5 words.

Premee:  "OK, I definitely fixed it."



TQTell us something about Beneath the Rising that is not found in the book description.

Premee:  The book description focuses on their friendship, which I think was my goal, but it doesn't talk much about everything trying to drive them apart as the events start to unravel: family responsibilities, ancient monsters, possessed thralls, international police, a worried assistant, bounty hunters, and a mysterious secret society. Even the weather, even the geography. Odds are way lower than they seem that everybody is going to make it out of this in one piece.



TQWhat inspired you to write Beneath the Rising?

Premee:  Definitely my experience in university, I think. Coming to grips with everything we wanted to know about science and the ways we were limited by funding, time, labour, intelligence, memory, luck, but also the limitations of measuring techniques and available reagents. I think at least at first both Johnny Chambers herself, and the book, were purely wish-fulfillment: What would you do if you had most limitations removed from the research you were doing? And after that: But what if those gates and those gatekeepers are there for a reason? How could you get around them, and why would you think it was justifiable for you and only you to do that? What might happen as a result of all that power and disregard for risk? Do you have the right to risk things that aren't yours (say: the fate of the entire world) just because you want to?



TQHow does being a scientist affect (or not) your fiction writing?

Premee:  Abstractly, I think it continues to affect everything I write about and how I write. Not just in the ability to research and synthesize huge amounts of data from a wide variety of sources, including many that I would not have known about before studying science, but the ability to make logical jumps from ideas or facts and connect things, I think those are tremendously useful. Keeping correlation and causation appropriately apart is essential in my job, but pushing them together in interesting ways is essential in speculative fiction. Deriving the unexpected from the known, and helping people connect ideas in a new light, is always the goal.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Beneath the Rising?

Premee:  Well, I absolutely whiffed on the actual science; I read about three things related to clean-energy reactors and particle physics and made up the rest. (I hope no physicists read this novel. They will be very irritated with me.) But I spent a long time researching the places they were going. Encyclopedias, travel memoirs, the arts library at my university, National Geographics, and just asking around in the old days (the internet wasn't a lot of help in 2002). When I polished it up for querying in 2016, I also used a lot of blogs, city websites, Google Earth, and Twitter. It's so fantastic now to be able to be informed directly and without filters by the people who live there and take photos of their everyday life. I really hope I was able to use my research accurately and respectfully, while working with the limitation that it's in a universe in which Johnny Chambers and her science and her corporations have changed the whole world.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Beneath the Rising.

Premee:  I love the cover! They asked me for input about it very early on in the process and I said I would love to see something graphic, and I didn't like the painterly style of covers which depicted the faces of the characters. Then that was the last I heard of it till it went live for pre-orders. The artist is James Paul Jones (@jamespauljones). I didn't realize, when I first looked at it, that there were silhouettes around the ring, and when I did I think I screamed out loud at my desk. It's so well-done. I've seen people comparing it to the language from the 'Arrival' movie, which I haven't seen. I think it looks more like the aftermath of a specific event in the book... readers will figure it out at about the same time I did, I think.



TQIn Beneath the Rising who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Premee:  This is such an interesting question! I think Nick was the easiest to write at the time. I constantly felt like him. I almost could have just transcribed my journals at the time: full of hope and expectations, having difficulty distinguishing between romantic and platonic love, feeling completely responsible for the safety and health of my younger sibling, severe anxiety, always wanting to do the right thing, loyal to a fault. Johnny was the hardest: not just that she was supposed to be more intelligent than me, but more intelligent than, supposedly, anyone; and that she had this awful, blatant disregard for other people's feelings and worries. It was fun to write someone so confident and have it often tip over into arrogance, but it was also tiring. I kept fretting that she was, somehow, secretly, me, just because she was the scientist character.



TQDoes Beneath the Rising touch on any social issues?

Premee:  I didn't think so at the time, seeing it as a basic adventure/fantasy story; but when I reviewed it in preparation for querying, I do think it touches on some fairly heavy stuff. Not merely classism, not merely the idea of assimilation after immigration (which Nick, like me, didn't think about much as a teenager), but also colonialism in general: what's the end result of empire? What do you get as a world, as a mindset, after centuries and centuries of people transporting, enslaving, mutilating, killing, suppressing, torturing, and erasing black and brown cultures and peoples for profit? Johnny doesn't think about it, clearly. But maybe she should.



TQWhich question about Beneath the Rising do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Premee:  No one's asking whether anything from the novel appears in any of my short stories! The answer is, yes, and you'll see it right away when you start looking for it!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Beneath the Rising.

Premee:  "I cannot believe that you have all this money and you don't have a secret getaway blimp for when monsters are watching the house," I said. "What's even the point?"



TQWhat's next?

Premee:  I am working diligently on the sequel, which will be a very, very different book from the first one. After that I guess we'll see!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Premee:  Thank you for having me here! :)





Beneath the Rising
Solaris, March 3, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising
All the Birds in the Sky meets Lovecraft Country in this whimsical coming-of-age story about two kids in the middle of a war of eldritch horrors from outside spacetime…

Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.

But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…





About Premee

Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising
Premee Mohamed is a scientist and writer based out of Alberta, Canada. She has degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science, but hopes that readers of her fiction will not hold that against her. Her short speculative fiction has been published in a variety of venues, which can be found on her website.
Website ~ Twitter @premeesaurus

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts


2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts


There are 12 debut novels for March 2020.

Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The March debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite March cover for the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on March 15, 2020.




Katie M. Flynn

The Companions
Gallery/Scout Press, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.

In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.

Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.

Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.





Megan Giddings

Lakewood
Amistad, March 24, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Reads (The Great First Half 2020 Books)
When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.

On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.

The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.





Rachel Harrison

The Return
Berkley, March 24, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
A group of friends reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance in this edgy and haunting debut.

Julie is missing, and no one believes she will ever return—except Elise. Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and feels it in her bones that her best friend is out there and that one day Julie will come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her.

Along with Molly and Mae, their two close friends from college, the women decide to reunite at a remote inn. But the second Elise sees Julie, she knows something is wrong—she’s emaciated, with sallow skin and odd appetites. And as the weekend unfurls, it becomes impossible to deny that the Julie who vanished two years ago is not the same Julie who came back. But then who—or what—is she?





S.A. Jones

The Fortress
Erewhon, March 17, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages
(US Debut)

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Jonathon Bridge has a corner office in a top-tier law firm, tailored suits and an impeccable pedigree. He has a fascinating wife, Adalia, a child on the way, and a string of pretty young interns as lovers on the side. He’s a man who’s going places. His world is our world: the same chaos and sprawl, haves and have-nots, men and women, skyscrapers and billboards. But it also exists alongside a vast, self-sustaining city-state called The Fortress where the indigenous inhabitants—the Vaik, a society run and populated exclusively by women—live in isolation.

When Adalia discovers his indiscretions and the ugly sexual violence pervading his firm, she agrees to continue their fractured marriage only on the condition that Jonathan voluntarily offers himself to the Fortress as a supplicant and stay there for a year.

Jonathon’s arrival at the Fortress begins with a recitation of the conditions of his stay: He is forbidden to ask questions, to raise his hand in anger, and to refuse sex. Jonathon is utterly unprepared for what will happen to him over the course of the year—not only to his body, but to his mind and his heart.

This absorbing, confronting and moving novel asks questions about consent, power, love and fulfillment. It asks what it takes for a man to change, and whether change is possible without a radical reversal of the conditions that seem normal.





Zack Jordan

The Last Human
Del Rey, March 24, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
The last human in the universe must battle unfathomable alien intelligences—and confront the truth about humanity—in this ambitious, galaxy-spanning debut

“A good old-fashioned space opera in a thoroughly fresh package.”—Andy Weir, author of The Martian

“Big ideas and believable science amid a roller-coaster ride of aliens, AI, superintelligence, and the future of humanity.”—Dennis E. Taylor, author of We Are Legion

Most days, Sarya doesn’t feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy. Most days, she’s got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn’t casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she’ll never know the truth—that she’ll never know why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist. Or whether she really is—impossibly—the lone survivor of a species destroyed a millennium ago. That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter and a miles-long kinetic projectile leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship—with the dubious assistance of a rebellious spacesuit, an android death enthusiast on his sixtieth lifetime, and a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands—Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth. What if humanity’s death and her own existence are simply two moves in a demented cosmic game, one played out by vast alien intellects? Stranger still, what if these mad gods are offering Sarya a seat at their table—and a second chance for humanity?

The Last Human is a sneakily brilliant, gleefully oddball space-opera debut—a masterful play on perspective, intelligence, and free will, wrapped in a rollicking journey through a strange and crowded galaxy.





Chris Kluwe

Otaku
Tor Books, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Otaku is the debut novel from former NFL player and tech enthusiast Chris Kluwe, with a story reminiscent of Ready Player One and Ender's Game.

Ditchtown.

A city of skyscrapers, built atop the drowned bones of old Miami. A prison of steel, filled with unbelievers. A dumping ground for strays, runaways, and malcontents.

Within these towering monoliths, Ashley Akachi is a young woman trying her best to cope with a brother who's slipping away, a mother who's already gone, and angry young men who want her put in her place. Ditchtown, however, is not the only world Ash inhabits.

Within Infinite Game, a virtual world requiring physical perfection, Ash is Ashura the Terrible, leader of the Sunjewel Warriors, loved, feared, and watched by millions across the globe. Haptic chambers, known as hapspheres, translate their every move in the real to the digital—and the Sunjewel Warriors' feats are legendary.

However, Ash is about to stumble upon a deadly conspiracy that will set her worlds crashing together, and in the real, you only get to die once…





EeLeen Lee

Liquid Crystal Nightingale
Abbadon, March 17, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
A bold and clever political thriller science fiction debut

Go deeper, they said. Look closer.

Pleo Tanza is a survivor. Her father was broken by tragedy, her twin sister is dead—chewed up and spat out by the corruption and injustice of Chatoyance—but she’s going to make it, whatever it takes. She’s going to get off this rock.

But escape is for the rich or lucky. Pleo’s framed for the murder of a rival student—the daughter of one of the colony’s wealthy, squabbling clans—and goes on the run, setting off a chain events that could destroy the fragile balance of the old colony forever…
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





Hilary Leichter

Temporary
Coffee House Press, March 3, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 208 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Eighteen boyfriends, twenty-three jobs, and one ghost who occasionally pops in to give advice: Temporary casts a hilarious and tender eye toward the struggle for happiness under late capitalism.

In Temporary, a young woman’s workplace is the size of the world. She fills increasingly bizarre placements in search of steadiness, connection, and something, at last, to call her own. Whether it’s shining an endless closet of shoes, swabbing the deck of a pirate ship, assisting an assassin, or filling in for the Chairman of the Board, for the mythical Temporary, “there is nothing more personal than doing your job.”

This riveting quest, at once hilarious and profound, will resonate with anyone who has ever done their best at work, even when the work is only temporary.





Premee Mohamed

Beneath the Rising
Solaris, March 3, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
All the Birds in the Sky meets Lovecraft Country in this whimsical coming-of-age story about two kids in the middle of a war of eldritch horrors from outside spacetime…

Nick Prasad and Joanna “Johnny” Chambers have been friends since childhood. She’s rich, white, and a genius; he’s poor, brown, and secretly in love with her.

But when Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens the primal, evil Ancient ones set on subjugating humanity.

From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they need to trust each other completely to survive…





Eddie Robson

Hearts of Oak
Tor.com, March 17, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 272 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Hearts of Oak is a delightful science fiction adventure from Eddie Robson, the creator of the acclaimed Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully.

The buildings grow.
And the city expands.
And the people of the land are starting to behave abnormally.

Or perhaps they’ve always behaved that way, and it’s normality that’s at fault.
And the king of the land confers with his best friend, who happens to be his closest advisor, who also happens to be a talking cat. But that’s all perfectly natural and not at all weird.

Iona, close to retirement, finds that the world she has always known is nothing like she always believed it to be. There dark forces . . . not dark. There are uncanny forces . . . no, not uncanny. There are forces, anyway, mostly slightly odd ones, and they appear to be acting in mysterious ways. It’s about town planning, it’s about cats and it’s about the nature of reality.





K. M. Szpara

Docile
Tor.com, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 496 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
K. M. Szpara's Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

There is no consent under capitalism.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents' debts and buy your children's future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him.

Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Content warning: Docile contains forthright depictions and discussions of rape and sexual abuse.





Kawai Strong Washburn

Sharks in the Time of Saviors
MCD, March 3, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts
Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawai’ian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.

“Old myths clash with new realities, love is in a ride or die with grief, faith rubs hard against magic, and comic flips with tragic so much they meld into something new. All told with daredevil lyricism to burn. A ferocious debut.” —Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

So good it hurts and hurts to where it heals. It is revelatory and unputdownable. Washburn is an extraordinarily brilliant new talent.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods—a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i—with tragic consequences—they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.
2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - April 2020 DebutsInterview with Matthew Ward, author of Legacy of Ash2020 Debut Author Challenge - April DebutsInterview with Rachel Harrison, author of The ReturnInterview with EeLeen Lee, author of Liquid Crystal NightingaleInterview with S. A. Jones, author of The Fortress2020 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - March 2020 DebutsInterview with Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of SaviorsInterview with Premee Mohamed, author of Beneath the Rising2020 Debut Author Challenge - March 2020 Debuts

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